Convocation, Investiture, White Coat Ceremony . . . what are all these events and why are they happening?

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Robert and Shirley Siff formally bestowed the Robert M. and Shirley S. Siff Chair in Autism on Jean Frazier, MD, during the 2009 Investiture Ceremony.


What is convocation?

The word “convocation,” which comes from Latin and means “calling together,” can be used to refer to any large, formal assembly. In some academic communities, it is an annual celebration where members of the community—faculty, staff and students—are “called together” to mark the official opening of a new academic year. Often the leader of the campus (in our case, Chancellor Collins) makes a campus address and lays out plans for the upcoming year.

In addition to Chancellor Collins’s remarks, this year’s Convocation will feature welcome remarks from Dean Flotte and a keynote presentation by author Charles Kenney, Sorrel King and George Dover, MD. Kenney is a former journalist and the author of five works of nonfiction and three novels. In his book The Best Practice, Kenney describes how the new quality movement is transforming medicine. King is the mother of a child whose death as a result of medical error is described in Kenney’s book. Dr. Dover is pediatrician-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and was the chief physician at the time King sought care for her daughter.

What is investiture?

The word “investiture” refers to the formal installation of someone to a post. At UMass Worcester, Investiture is a periodic recognition of distinguished faculty members who have been chosen for named professorships, and a celebration of the benefactors who made the named professorships possible through their generous contributions.

UMass Worcester currently has 32 named professorships. These endowments increase the institution’s ability to attract and retain individuals who are distinguished in their fields and provide an opportunity for donors to contribute directly to the enrichment of the academic and scientific environment.

At the 2010 Investiture, six professors will be invested into named professorships, as follows:

Harry M. Haidak Professorship in Surgery
Recipient: Demetrius E. M. Litwin, MD, MBA

Celia and Isaac Haidak Professorship in Medical Education
Recipient: Terence R. Flotte, MD

William and Doris Krupp Professorship in Medicine
Recipient: David M. Harlan, MD

Isadore and Fannie Foxman Chair in Medical Research
Recipient: Michael P. Czech, PhD

Penelope Booth Rockwell Chair in Biomedical Research
Recipient: Guangping Gao, PhD

Mary C. DeFeudis Chair in Cancer Care and Research
Recipient: Michael L. Blute, MD

For additional information about named professorships, visit the UMass Memorial Foundation.

What is the White Coat Ceremony?

The White Coat Ceremony is a relatively new tradition in which medical students are presented with their white coats to signify the beginning of their clinical training. Started in 1993 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, the tradition emphasizes the importance of both scientific excellence and compassionate care for the patient, according to the foundation. The cloaking with the white coat—the mantle of the medical profession—is a hands-on experience that underscores the bonding process. The white coat is placed on each student's shoulders by individuals who represent the value system of the school and the new profession the students are about to enter.

This is the first year UMass Medical School will host a White Coat Ceremony. Entering School of Medicine students will be welcomed into the medical community and presented with their white coats by their Learning Community mentors. Read more about the White Coat Ceremony here.

What is the summer read?

The “summer read” is a book that members of the UMMS community are encouraged to read over the summer with the goal of engaging the community in a collective discussion as the new academic year begins. All incoming students are provided with a copy of the book, and copies are also available in the bookstore for purchase and in the Lamar Souter Library for borrowing.

The book was chosen by a representative committee that based its selection on the relevance of the topic to the mission of UMass Medical School. This year and last, the books’ authors were invited to participate in a campus-wide discussion during Convocation week. This year’s book is The Best Practice: How the New Quality Movement Is Transforming Medicine by Charles Kenney, who along with Sorrel King and George Dover, MD, will participate in the keynote presentation on Thursday.